Speak Up: The Professional Volunteer Fire Department

Many times in discussions with the public, I am asked whether I am a professional firefighter or a volunteer firefighter. I take exception to that, and politely explain to them that there are paid firefighters and there are volunteer firefighters, but all...

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The fire service is the greatest profession in the world. Our ranks are filled with hard-working, dedicated, caring and extremely competent members. At all times, we should strive to be professional firefighters, whether paid or volunteer.

Thomas A. Merrill
Past Fire Chief
Snyder Fire Department
Snyder, NY

The writer recently completed a five-year term as chief. The Snyder Fire Department was formed in 1915 and protects a six-square-mile area of the Town of Amherst with more than 35,000 residents. The department responded to 1,068 emergency calls last year.




The Value of Higher Education in the Fire Service

Alaska curriculum gives students valuable fire and EMS experience

As the fire chief at the student-staffed University of Alaska Fire Department, I really appreciated Paul Snodgrass’ article on community and technical colleges, “Community & Technical Colleges: Delivering Training and Education in One Package.” in the August 2012 issue of Firehouse® Magazine. Our 42 full-time student firefighters know the value of higher education, experience and employment history to achieving their career aspirations – that is why they come here from all over the U.S. Over 70% of our alumni are now serving their communities in the emergency services.

Unlike similar programs, we hire our student firefighters as full-time uniformed employees who work a standard 56-hour work week on one of three shifts. Under the supervision and tutelage of nine career officers, they gain valuable fire and emergency medical experience while pursuing their degrees at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Community and Technical College. Students are released from duty to attend classes and are dismissed as necessary to respond on calls.

By the time a student firefighter completes four years here, he or she will have a complete resume including an AAS degree in fire science and/or paramedicine, a bachelor of emergency management degree, a variety of fire and medical certifications and the experience and work ethic that comes from four years of employment as a firefighter and emergency medical technician. I invite you to check us out at www.uaf.edu/fire.

Doug Schrage

Fire Chief

University Fire Department, Alaska

Fairbanks, AK

The writer has more than 30 years of fire service experience. He has a master of science degree in emergency management, bachelor’s and associate’s degrees in fire service administration and is National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer. See page XX for more higher education coverage.


Arrival reports

I’ve been enjoying reading Mark Emery’s multi-part series, “How to Nail Your First-Due Strategic Responsibility” (see page XX). It seems like we, as company officers, are stretched so thin on the fireground that we do botch our arrival reports because we’re in a mad dash to get a thousand things done in two minutes – with less staffing. I thank and applaud Chief Emery for the work he is doing for us.

Beau Gardner


Port Orange Fire Rescue

Port Orange, FL




What Do You Think?

We welcome feedback, views, reactions and observations. Please send letters to Speak Up, Firehouse Magazine, 3 Huntington Quadrangle, Suite 301N, Melville, NY 11747; fax them to 631-845-2741; or e-mail them to editors@Firehouse.com. Letters may be edited for space and clarity. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the undersigned and do not represent endorsement by Firehouse® Magazine.